$4 billion Resorts World project gets key approval

Genting Group

An artist’s rendering of Resorts World Las Vegas.

Resorts World Las Vegas took a big step forward today when Nevada gaming officials gave a key regulatory approval to the $4 billion project.

The Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously signed off on a series of applications from Genting Group, the Malaysian company that’s developing the resort on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

The approvals given to Genting, which received the blessing of the Gaming Control Board two weeks ago, included findings of suitability for various executives and corporate entities. They mark the most significant public progress on the project since it held an elaborate ceremonial groundbreaking a year ago.

Construction of the Chinese-themed Resorts World should start in earnest sometime in the last three months of this year, with site activity beginning to ramp up this summer. The resort is expected to be finished in early 2019.

Resorts World was previously expected to open in 2018.

Gerald Gardner, the project’s general counsel, said Genting officials have been focused on improving and refining their plans. He has said previously that issues with the Chinese economy and Malaysian currency impacted the timeline.

“This is an extremely deliberative and thorough company when it comes to evaluating markets, when it comes to getting it right in terms of design and construction,” Gardner said today.

When it opens, Resorts World plans to offer a hotel with more than 3,000 rooms, a 150,000-square-foot casino and a nightclub, among other features.

One element highlighted today by Gardner was a “celestial sphere” feature in the front entrance atrium that will be able to display selfies from guests. The area will also include a Chinese garden, Gardner said.

Gardner, a former chief of staff to Gov. Brian Sandoval, said Resorts World intends to attract a large number of Chinese customers but indicated it should be well positioned toward domestic patrons as well.

The resort will create about 5,000 direct construction jobs and will have some 3,000 employees when it opens, Gardner said.

Resorts World is being built on the site where the Stardust stood until it was imploded. Boyd Gaming Corp. started to develop a new resort there called Echelon but abandoned the project amid the recession.

Genting is using partially built Echelon structures to build Resorts World.

Resorts World is the first Las Vegas project being developed by Genting, which already has established itself as an international hospitality powerhouse with properties in such locations as Malaysia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Genting also has a casino in New York — Resorts World New York City — and has a hand in another planned casino in Massachusetts.

Beyond hospitality, Genting’s other business interests include oil palm plantations, power generation and oil and gas exploration.